By Leah Kindler
The last summer that my heart is all the way home, I do the kid things. Sara and I lose sight of the sun behind the laundromat and our slipping towers of soft-serve. We sit there until half the people we know have walked past the stoop. We lay out our entire summers and watch them sink in the horizon. I let Maggie shave my head a second time on the driveway while their little sister watches and their grandma laughs. I catch a ride to Milwaukee and memorize all the streets named after states and presidents. I get swallowed in the sway of concert crowds. My sleep schedule buckles under morning shifts so I gift afternoons to my bed. Over pho, my dad debates leaving town like all my friends and their parents. I numb my ears, bathe Oak Park in rosy hues, wonder if I still want to leave for college. I chase girls at the last minute with no intention of loving them half as much as I could. I say “she” in the past tense and it’s all too clear who I mean—girl, closeted, of Italian ice-stained tongues and a July basement. In pictures, she sheds her hair and smiles in the lopsided way I used to cry about. I think of my own shearing, how the anger slipped from my face like a curtain. I keep calling this my last summer like I’ll never see June rains tiptoe over my roof again, or shake out the beach into my bed again, or beg Dad to turn on the air. Like I won’t love coming home so much more when it’s not the only home anymore,
just the original.
About the Author: Leah Kindler (she/her) is an Illinois-based poet and essayist with a BFA in creative writing from Emerson College. She has previously been published by the Academy of American Poets, Invisible City, and elsewhere. You can find her on Twitter @leahliterally.